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What is Adobe Animate and what can you do with it?

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Would the Adobe suite be complete without some sort of animation app? Believe it or not, 2D animation hasn’t always been part of Adobe’s wheelhouse.

Adobe Animate is the latest in a long line of 2D animation software. It’s passed through many hands and gone by many different names, but one thing remains the same: the app’s commitment to a great creative experience.

In this article, we’ll explain what Adobe Animate is and what you can do with it.

What is Adobe Animate?

What's new in Adobe Animate?

Adobe Animate is a creative application for 2D digital animation. Here you’ll find all the usual elements: a timeline, images and keyframes, a staging area, and an item library.

Those who have never really dabbled in animation may assume that Adobe Animate is a brand new app from Creative Suite. These individuals would be mistaken; the app was alive and well, but it actually had a different name until 2016. Does the word “Flash” mean anything to you?

The program formerly known as Flash has undergone many changes over the years. For those who were too young to remember, Macromedia was a media technology company known to acquire and develop various tools under its own name. Adobe absorbed them like an amoeba in 2005 for a whopping $ 3.4 billion.

The History of Macromedia Flash: Adobe, Origins and Legacy

Some Macromedia Flash media.

Image Credit: Macromedia Projector / Wikimedia Commons

Adobe Animate is the last version of a third-party property acquired by Macromedia itself in 1996; “Flash” is actually a coat rack named after the original program, FutureSplash Animator. This animation app was designed to go hand in hand with the tablet drawing technology widely available at the time.

Shockwave Flash, also known as Adobe Flash Player, is included alongside Flash under this brand and is probably something you actually remember. It is not animation software, but rather a browser plug-in used to display animation on a web page in a standalone and systematic way.

Many believe that part of Flash’s commercial success can be attributed to the ease of use that this companion plug-in offered to the user. Now native SWF files created by Flash can be viewed on any site. Anyone with the plug-in could watch your short film or play your game.

Sites like Newgrounds quickly gained prominence thanks to these tools. A global Flash community has come together; we have many memorable favorites to cherish forever from the era (Potter Puppet Pals? The Impossible Quiz? Is it still the case?), but you’ll probably notice that Adobe Flash Player, as it once existed, no longer exists.

The fall of Adobe Flash Player

The informal upheaval of the Adobe Flash Player system in December 2020 ushered in the golden rule of the HTML5 standard; no one has looked back to question this change since.

At this point, Adobe Animate had already been rebranded as such for almost five years. On February 8, 2016, the app was given the name we officially recognize today.

Now Adobe Animate has put some distance between itself and its humble beginnings. Animate is marketed only as simple animation software, but it is still as versatile and robust as Adobe Flash Professional was in its heyday.

What can you do with Adobe Animate?

The timeline and a puppet in Adobe Animate

You may already be familiar with some of the shows created using Adobe Flash and Adobe Animate – My Little Pony, Metalocalypse, BoJack Horseman and, of course, Coconut Fred’s Fruit Salad Island, among many others.

Adobe Animate supports animation in virtually any shape you can imagine – tween animation, traditional 2D paperless animation, and interactive animations for websites, games, and other presentations.

2D paperless animation

Yes, it’s true; you can create animations with Adobe Animate just as you can on paper. That is, if you are able to draw each image by hand using bitmap layers, just like the pros did a long time ago on real paper.

Direct animation? Animation pose to pose? Covered, and then some.

Vector animation

Those who thrive on working with vectors will be happy to have all of their needs met in kind here. Adobe Animate’s vector features are especially useful if your intention is a catchy animated infographic.

While After Effects is always a great tool to use, you might find that an Adobe Animate workflow can be more efficient, depending on the nature of the project.

Animate gives the artist a virtual camera, much like After Effects, so you can cycle through layered backgrounds and resize each shot quickly and easily. There will probably be few things in AE that you cannot find an analog for in Animate.

Rigging and cut-out puppet animation

Despite its tremendous capacity as a paperless animation program, Adobe Animate is also a great choice if your style leans more towards limited animation, with elements reused from frame to frame.

If you prefer to use character cutouts, you can rig the character using knots and layers, just like in some of your higher octane options when it comes to digital animation software. They even offer lip-syncing tools to animate speech, automated for speed and efficiency.

Animation for games

Finally, we come to one of the things Flash is historically famous for; its use as animation software for game development. This app is perfect for enterprising young game developers looking to cut their teeth.

Adobe Animate can be used to create all kinds of games, from extremely simple point-and-click fare to more complex puzzles and side scrollers.

Publishing options

On top of all that, Animate also gives you plenty of ways to publish your project. You can export your work in several formats suitable for the web or wherever your animation needs to go.

In the true spirit of what made its predecessor so accessible to the layman, Adobe recognizes that a composition is as good as the creator’s ability to share it with others. The Adobe Animate pipeline is logical and simple enough that anyone can learn and use it.

Do it all with Adobe Animate

Flash has come a long way; the latest version of Adobe Animate can be yours with a monthly Adobe subscription. On its own, Adobe Animate will set you back $ 20.99 / month, but you can also rent it in one of the plans Adobe offers.

You have a lot of options if you’re in the 2D animation software market, but the Adobe suite is the industry standard for a reason. Animate is an extraordinarily accessible and creative application. Once you get into the habit of using it, you can bring all of your newest, funniest, and weirdest ideas to life.


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